staycation: a review

My husband and I had a great staycation in the city of Boston for Memorial Day weekend. My in-laws came down to visit with the kids & dog and we took the train in on Friday afternoon. We didn’t plan much (a couple meals, a race & yoga, and a Red Sox game), which really made it relaxing — hello, daily afternoon naps.

My phone was on DONOTDISTURB the duration of our trip. I texted only a few times with friends while my husband was running his race or getting ready for bed (and when my cousin got engaged!). Taking the train instead of driving relieved some stress and let us start our trip off with ease; though, admittedly, it was not easy carting around our suitcases, so we took a taxi home.

I kept a partial log of the restaurants and the foods we tried. In my mind, I’d write restaurant reviews but in reality, I’ll just give a quick one-liner with recommendations.

We stayed at StayPineapple. It was a cute boutique hotel between the South End and Back Bay areas. We could walk everywhere, which was the best for us. The room was small and definitely wouldn’t be for everyone but we liked it.

Friday, we tried Myers & Chang for dinner. The sweet & sour brussels sprouts were my favorite. We also ordered the wild boar dan dan noodles — I’d not had dan dan noodles since my time in Wuhan and was excited to try them; the verdict: Very spicy but delicious; I’d have preferred less meat in mine. We walked to Flour near our hotel after dinner and I got a brown butter rice krispy treat — my life has been forever changed.

Saturday, I introduced my husband to hot yoga. He was a real trooper — I could tell he was struggling but he made it through! Afterwards, we tried Tatte — their haloumi & sunny-side egg sandwich with tomato is basically all I ever need for breakfast for the rest of of my life. We had breakfast in the Public Garden and then walked to the Seaport to get his bib for the Run to Remember. Afterwards, we stopped at Taiyaki NYC to try the ice cream; their cones are more like soft waffles with red bean. We split the beach, please and it was a nice, light treat.

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We then ventured to Bartaco for lunch. Admittedly, I LOVE Bartaco — I tweeted them until they put a restaurant in Boston, so we try to visit when we are on that side of town. I had the grapefruit-mint agua fresca (non alcoholic) and it was so light; I want to make this at home. My husband and I spit a few duck, shrimp, chorizo, and falafel tacos, their chopped salad (my favorite), and their salsa & guac trio. It was all delicious. We’d walked nearly eight miles by the time we reached our hotel; took naps; and then got ready and headed out to dinner. We chose MoonBar for wine and some snacks (raw oysters, smoked swordfish dip with crackers, halibut crudo, and the most amazing grilled squid salad I’ve ever had). We knew we’d need something a little more substantial later, so we returned to Tatte and got sandwiches: My husband got the Turkey BLAT  and a sandwich cookies while I opted for the mozzarella sandwich and a slice of their orange cake. Delicious.

There’s a recipe book of mine that has a smoked fish dip and I’ve been curious about it. I can’t wait to make this at home now. The dip we had was really good, so I am tabling the recipe I have for a beach-date night.

On Sunday, my husband ran a half marathon and I went to yoga. We got back to the room and got ready for brunch: Brownstone was up. It was okay; I’d probably choose a different place next time, as there weren’t many vegetarian options and I was feeling very meated-out at that point. Their pancakes were good. After brunch, we took naps and then got ready for dinner in the North End. My husband snagged a reservation at Nico.  We went to Nico on our second date and it’s one of our favorite restaurants in the city. We went all out — drinks; the beet salad with whipped ricotta, honey & roasted pine nuts; their burrata salad with prosciutto, tomatoes & artichokes (a recipe I recreate at home OFTEN), and then my favorite dinner — their rigatoni with artichokes & sausage. I didn’t really eat the sausage and in retrospect should have asked for it without. My husband had their chicken parm and liked it too.

On Monday, we had plans for the 4PM Red Sox game. We ordered delivery for breakfast from Trident. My husband had the breakfast burrito and I made my own eggs benedict with tomatoes and spinach. We hadn’t been to Trident in a while and their food was just as good as we’d remembered. We had some snacks at the game (nachos) and then stopped at CAVA on the way back for some grain and greens bowls.

We ended our trip on Tuesday with more rice krispy treats from Flour, breakfast at the Friendly Toast (we both built our own omelettes — mine had asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes, and goat cheese — YUM!) and sushi at Red Lantern for dinner.

It was a great trip and a time to just walk around and enjoy the city and each other. We walked A LOT. At the most, I logged 8.2 miles (Saturday) and at the least, 2.9 miles (Friday). We didn’t take the train or a taxi anywhere after we got there and before we came home. It was nice to be unplugged, too. I need to put my phone on DO NOT DISTURB and forget about it more often. Overall, a great time. I look forward to our next one!

 

 

mother’s day

For years, Mother’s Day left me in a strange place. I was a step-mother being celebrated for my contributions to my family but yearned for a child of my own at the same time. It was difficult to be appreciative and not show outward aching at the same time. When 3 came home, that all changed of course…

This weekend, we celebrated Mother’s Day and it was all lovely. Yesterday, I was showered with love and hand-made gifts from 11 & 13. They each made me mugs that were thoughtfully painted and they were both proud to tell me that I could use these mugs for my tea. I can’t wait!

Their mom took them to Michael’s to get a craft for me, which is appreciated. She has not always been so accepting and approving. Last night, when she came to pick 11 & 13 up, she texted my husband to let him know she got to the house and to have him wish me a Happy Mother’s Day. 11 & 13 left with handmade cards from an in-town printing press, flowers, and chocolate-covered strawberries in hand.

Before that, though, we went to Davio’s and had an Italian dinner (and a glass of Moscato for me). It was a delicious meal and our server complimented all three kiddos on their behavior (and their appetites).

I also was taught a new dance this weekend. I honestly wonder what the neighbors think, as there are frequent dance parties that take place in our sitting room and kitchen space. The newest dance I learned is where I catch an imaginary ball and then look like I’m tying a bow with my fists. It appears there are dramatized facial expressions as well.

All-in-all, a great weekend that led up to today. For Mother’s Day, my husband and 3 took me to brunch at one of my favorite places, Eastern Standard and surprised me with tickets to the Red Sox game! The weather in Boston was less than fantastic today, but after a Mother’s Day winter hat purchase, I was comfortable enough to make it through the game. Fortunately, my husband got us seats under the grand stand, so we stayed dry the duration of the game.

After a stunning Sox victory, we drove home, admiring the city and recapping our day. Then, we ordered pizza and cheesecake, because is there really any other way to celebrate Mother’s Day?

 

holiday menu

I love to entertain — it’s kind of funny because I’m super introverted and am exhausted by having people in my space, but I really enjoy meal planning and cooking for a crowd. Acts of Service is my love language communicated and so my parents’ visit over Christmas left me feeling stressed that I was unable to really plan and prepare adequately for their visit. (See previous post re: pneumonia, the Christmas gift that makes you miserable.)

Fortunately for me, I’m married to a good man who was able to pick up my slack. He went on a 3-hour grocery shopping trip for the holiday meal and the brunches and dinners to follow. (He was sick too, so I appreciate the effort to take one for the team.)

When our kitchen was under construction, we bought a few new cookbooks. My husband combed through Chrissy Teigan’s, Cravings and Kristin Cavallari’s True Roots. My parents were only in town for the weekend and we planned dinner at the local hibachi one night, so we really only needed three primary meals:

Brunch: CT’s cheeseless cheesy eggs with blistered tomatoes & garlicky bacon; orange juice; berries; cinnamon rolls (gluten & yeast free); and coffee/tea.

This menu was a hit! The eggs were really creamy and the heavy cream made them taste cheesy without the heaviness. The meal with a big hit with my parents, my brother, all three kids, and the two of us! Yes!

Dinner: CT’s scalloped potatoes and a vegetable tray my mom prepared. We subbed out whole milk for almond milk and the the scalloped potatoes were amazing — 5 pounds of potatoes, ham & bacon — it was definitely not the healthiest of meals but it felt fancy and it satisfied everyone’s hunger.

On Saturday, we went with KC’s breakfast sandwiches, which are a favorite lazy weekend breakfast item of ours: Ezekiel bread, prosciutto, eggs, micro-greens, avocado, tomato, and hot sauce — we devoured a dozen eggs and nearly a whole loaf of bread! We added juice, coffee/tea, and berries for a nice, well-rounded meal.

Overall, these meal ideas worked really well for our family! We balanced healthy meals with rich ones and we were all pleased with how everything turned out. Because I was still sick, my husband did most of the cooking and I was his (barely there) sous chef.

Do you have any go-to brunch items that you enjoy?

christmas

I’m not going to lie: It’s been a rough holiday season. My husband and I took 3 to see the Boston Pops Children’s Matinee — it was great! We watched a wonderful performance and then met my brother for lunch. We went home and put 3 down for his nap and we rested too — and then it hit: The sickness.

3 awoke from his nap with 103 fever and I had a wicked cough. Both he and I went to the doctor the following morning. I was told that I had a virus and it would pass; that was Monday. By Wednesday, I was diagnosed with bronchitis and Thursday’s urgent care visit left me with a pneumonia diagnosis.

Merry Christmas!

I am not a good sick person. Whatever the ‘man flu’ looks like, I guarantee that my flu looks 100% worse. I was so uncomfortable and was on SIX prescriptions, including a breathing treatment (which I am still on 3x per day and then I will be on it once a day for a month once I’m actually better). Fortunately, the medication helped with physical ailments but nothing could prepare me for the anxiety spike I’d experience.

It’s no secret that I have an anxiety disorder — I am largely able to manage it without medication because I use rest, exercise, and diet as my biggest tools for self-care. Not being able to sleep, however, really threw me for a loop. My anxiety soared and before I knew it, I was hyperventilating in the bathroom because I’d convinced myself I ruined Christmas for my family.

Anxiety is a hell of a thing. It can take the most illogical thought and convince you that it’s the glaring idea in everyone’s minds.

Fortunately, once the medication started to kick in, I was able to sleep and reset. I am still feeling sick but my mental state is more coherent than it was 10 days ago. I still feel like my Christmas was ruined because of illness, but I do recognize that nobody else’s was — we still had plenty of family time and lots of laughter.

Ultimately, the point here is that Christmas was a rough this year for me but I’m looking forward to setting goals for the new year. I have some ideas in mind and a lot of updates to wrap my mind around from the last month.

What are some of your goals for 2019?